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High School Teacher Arrested for Arson


LAKE WALES - A Lake Wales High School teacher was arrested last night in connection with three early morning fires Sunday at the school.

Ross Allen Mellot, 40, had previously been arrested on Sunday by the Lake Wales Police Department for loitering and prowling, two counts of carrying a concealed weapon and possession of burglary tools. Investigators with the State Fire Marshal's Office, Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigators, said Mellot had been seen in an apartment complex across the street from the high school wearing a black trench coat, dark clothing and a camouflage backpack containing cans of lighter fluid, lighting cubes for staring fires, a knife and a loaded revolver.

After being interviewed by investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office in Bartow, Mellot admitted to setting the three fires at the high school and was charged with additional counts of arson and armed burglary. The fires caused minor damage.

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law enforcement agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious origin. Anyone with information regarding a suspicious fire can call the Bureau of Fire & Arson Investigations at (407) 897-2892, 24 hours a day. Information may also be mailed to the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations, 3659 Maguire Blvd., Suite 151, Orlando, Florida, 32803. A $2,500 reward is offered for information leading to an arrest.